At first glance, Wharton’s group interview may seem unlike any other MBA interview. However, despite the different format, the same basic tenets apply. Here is specific advice about what to expect and how to shine in your Wharton interview:
- Your primary goal is to demonstrate that you are a collaborative team player who fosters productive conversations, contributes great ideas and insight, respects others and helps to elevate the dialogue and drive results. You want the Wharton team to envision you having a positive impact in the classroom, as well as giving them a vivid picture of how your interpersonal skills will drive your professional success.
- Listen as much – or more – than you talk. The goal of this interview is NOT to dominate the conversation. In fact, if you are talking more than anyone else in the group you may be coming off as arrogant and selfish, which is the antithesis of what you want to convey. While remaining mute is a bad idea – they may think that you lack confidence or ideas – you also don’t want to talk unless you have something useful to say. This can be a tough balance, but it is always better to make a few truly insightful points than 50 irrelevant ones.
- Attacking others makes you look really bad. No matter how illogical or superfluous you may find your teammate’s point to be, it reflects horribly on you to embarrass or criticize anyone else. Remember, this is an artificial exercise designed primarily to see how you function in a group setting. It does you no good to demonstrate intellectual prowess if no one wants to work with you.
- Speaking of which, you do not have to be the smartest person in the room. While you obviously want to be prepared and demonstrate intellectual aptitude, this group interview is again about your ability to function in team settings. The admissions committee has already seen your grades, gmat, work experience, etc, and if they did not think that these metrics (and indicators of your intelligence) were in the admissible range you would not have been invited to interview. The point of this exercise is to demonstrate emotional intelligence, while also showcasing your ability to think logically and communicate clearly.
- Try to have fun. No one wants to work with someone who is exceptionally tense and grim, no matter how smart and accomplished they may be. To the extent that you can relax and let your naturally congenial personality shine through it will be to your benefit. Humor, perspective, generosity, and a positive outlook are all extremely important qualities.
- You can’t control everything, so try to be flexible. Out of respect to Wharton I will refrain from sharing the interview content or delineating the exact format. If you are invited to interview you will have this information beforehand, so please do prepare to the extent possible. However, group dynamics can be tricky, and if you don’t click with your group please don’t panic. As long as you remember the ultimate goal – to be an articulate, active participant while demonstrating your ability to positively, respectfully and collaboratively interact in a group setting – you will succeed in your Wharton group interview.